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VoIP 101 - Page 2 of 2
Posted: September 07, 2005
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: N/A
Source: Tech Tips
More Information: Nortel VoIP
Comment or Question: Post Here

Data Transmissions:

Your standard phone line uses the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) for connecting the parties involved in a phone call. Although this system is reliable, it is not very efficient, and considering it has been operating under the same basic principles since the invention of the telephone, it might be surprising to realize we have such an antiquated system. A call made on this system is referred to as “circuit switched”, since the two parties are constantly connected throughout the duration of the call… like a circuit.

A VoIP call doesn’t use the PSTN, and it does not keep the two parties connected throughout the conversation. A VoIP conversation is referred to as “packet switched”, as the data is transmitted in packets (or smaller chunks) and the connection is made only as these chunks of data need to be transmitted.

One benefit of this method is that packet switching lets the data travel from caller to caller over the most efficient path on the Internet, and not over one dedicated line. Additionally, because there isn’t a dedicated connection for the conversation, bandwidth is conserved, and more phone calls can be placed in the space typically required by one PSTN call. Even greater efficiency can be achieved through VoIP’s use of data compression, which is equivalent to Zipping-up the data before transmitting (and unzipping it at the other end).


VoIP offers many benefits over traditional telephone service, which has it poised to become the phone system of the near future. Many traditional long distance carriers actually use VoIP themselves, as it makes routing long distance calls more convenient than over traditional lines. So, even if you don’t subscribe to a VoIP service personally, it is likely that you have already used it, whether you know it or not.

One of the main benefits of VoIP is the flexibility. You can take your phone, and your same phone number, with you anywhere in the world where a broadband internet connection is available. This can be extremely useful for business travelers who can not count on their mobile phone to work internationally, and appreciate the presence of a dedicated phone number for use for staying in contact with associates/clients. This flexibility is made easier through the use of a PC based or IP based telephone, but even a typical ATA can be packed up and stored in a brief case.

Another key benefit is price. Taking a look at the offerings from services like Vonage or Packet8 shows that the traditional phone company may not be able to compete. In addition to offering local and long distance for lower rates, they also bundle in all the extra calling features that people have grown to rely on (such as caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, etc).

VoIP also allows some more advanced features not available with your typical land line. Many services offer the ability to check voice mail via the web, or to even have voice messages sent to you as an attachment in an e-mail. The service’s web interface may also allow for a detailed calling log to be reviewed, for customized messages be applied to certain callers, and for special call forwarding settings to be applied.

Final Words:

VoIP is nothing new, but as the technology advances the popularity is surging. The efficiency, calling features, and competitive pricing have it poised to overtake the antiquated PSTN system as the way we make phone calls. This Tech Tip covered some of the basic ideas and features of VoIP, and hopefully offers a better understanding of what exactly Voice over Internet Protocol is.

Please drop by the Forum and feel free to discuss this article.

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